We enjoy cooking with quality pots which are made using traditional materials and methods.  Let’s look at the options:

Cast Iron. As a reminder, cast iron conducts heat relatively poorly. This means it heats slowly and is prone to hot spots, but once it does get hot, it holds onto that heat very well. This makes it great for doing things like searing thick steaks, since you want the pan to remain hot when the cold meat hits it, which ensures the steak will sear and brown as efficiently as possible.

Cast iron's great heat retention also makes it ideal for slow-cooking dishes that require sustained, even heat, like stews and braises, especially when placed in an oven, where the cooking vessel is heated from all sides. Enamelled cast iron cookware protects the raw cast iron and gives a beautiful luxurious finish. It also gives the cooking surface a smooth glossy finish which provides non-stick properties for added benefit.

Copper inverts these rules. It heats quickly and evenly, but it loses that heat just as fast. This responsiveness gives it a nimbleness and agility that can be very useful for delicate proteins like fish and seafood, as well as sauces, caramel, and chocolate—remove a copper saucepan holding a delicate sauce from the heat and its temperature will drop rapidly, reducing the chances the sauce overcooks or breaks from exposure to the retained heat in the metal. Copper is famed for its ability to conduct heat and electricity—it's no accident that it's copper and not iron that runs through the electrical wires in our walls—and it's this quality that makes it such an interesting metal for cooking. In a lot of ways, copper sits at the opposite end of the conduction and heat-retention spectrum as cast iron, making them two very different, yet complementary, materials for cooking. If you prefer to use the dishwasher for cleaning all your pots, then perhaps copper is not for you.

Stainless Steel. Stainless steel pots are energy-saving and suitable for most dishes. Stainless steel is a great option for non-toxic, long-lasting, durable cookware ideal for boiling, sautéing and baking. It is especially good for small-batch baking as it retains heat well and cooks foods evenly. One possible downside of stainless steel is that it may leach heavy metals into food. This is more likely if you cook acidic foods in a stainless-steel pot for a long time. Stainless steel is also easy to clean and care for, making it especially helpful for novice cooks, such as students living away from home for the first time. Just clean with hot soapy water after use, or scrub down with steel wool to remove any layers of oil that have accumulated.  Stainless steel is also a versatile material for cookware. You can easily find stainless steel pots and frying pans, as well as griddles, lasagne pans, roasting trays, muffin tins, and baking sheets.

One of the best options for stainless steel cookware is a 3-ply design layering stainless steel, aluminum, and stainless steel. This layering helps to seal in the aluminium, so you don’t need to worry about leaching – while harnessing aluminum’s better heat conductivity to produce a more homogenous cooking surface. This type of design is also easier to clean, dishwasher safe, and is sturdier and more polished than some cheaper cookware made purely with low-quality stainless steel.

Whether you choose cast iron, stainless steel or copper, each cooking material has its pros and cons. Choose the cookware that suits your general cooking needs but a mix of different pots and pans is usually the best option to cover your culinary aspirations.

By Support Staff


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